Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Pentagon Prepares For End of Gay Ban; Has Toyota Found Fix?

Aired February 02, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Toyota says its sudden acceleration safety problem is not an electronics issue. But computer whiz, the Apple co- founder and Toyota Steve Wozniak is worried, very worried. He's here to tell us why. Stand by.

As the Pentagon prepares to end its ban on gays openly serving in the military, we will hear from some gay service members about life under don't ask, don't tell.

And a new twist in the case of Americans accused of child trafficking in Haiti. We will hear from parents who tell us they willingly, willingly handed over their children and why.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Dramatic and stunning comments today from the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood. He says Toyota stalled in dealing with the sudden acceleration problems linked to its gas pedals. LaHood says it took government pressure including a trip to Japan by federal officials to get Toyota to take action.

Toyota says it has a fix for the 2.3 million vehicles recalled in the United States because of a sticky gas pedal. There are millions more other vehicles around the world that have a similar problem apparently, but critics suspect the problem is much more ominous. Toyota's U.S. president, Jim Lentz, says his car's electronics are not the problem.

Let's talk about this and more with computer whiz Steve Wozniak. He's the co-founder of Apple. He's also an owner of multiple Toyotas. And he's worried.

Steve, thanks very much for coming in.

What, do you -- you own four Toyotas; is that right?

STEVE WOZNIAK, CO-FOUNDER, APPLE: Currently, yes, one used by a son, one used by my staff, one used by my wife, one used by myself. And I love them.

BLITZER: Are these all Toyota Priuses? WOZNIAK: Yes, they are. It's a car that has changed my life. I have a lot of expensive cars. I have a lot of big prestigious cars. But I prefer since 2004 to drive my Priuses. I mean, I love this car, the way it feels. It's so quiet. I'm rested. I drove to L.A. today. I will drive had 12 hours to Phoenix, instead of fly. I haven't flown in ages.

BLITZER: And this is the most widely sold hybrid in the United States.

All right. So, what's the problem here that you have encountered in your Prius, which I should point out is not one of those models that's been recalled by Toyota?

WOZNIAK: Oh, well, it's a big hoax. I bet my friends I could get on your show, and here I am. It's a big hoax.

Well, the hoax is really more in the media. The media is portraying me as saying, oh, I'm worried about the problem; what they have been recalled for is really a software problem.

I haven't really said those things. They have put those words in my mouth. What I said is, my Prius has a totally different, unrelated problem. It has actually had it two, three months ago. I even tried to report it. Now, the reason that I'm on here today is because I was speaking the other day, a couple days ago, to a group of teachers for a discovery museum and talking about an issue of customer support, how hard it is sometimes to get to the people that can really deal with your problems.

And it's frustrating. And I sort of brought up this issue of how I had tried for a couple of months in different ways to get Toyota to hear about my problem. But mine is kind of minor. It's more like a radio button that doesn't work all the time. The car will start to accelerate in cruise control. You can hit the brake to stop it.

And maybe it's scary for the first time for a couple of seconds, but once you know about it, it's not like I think it's life- threatening. I have been driving the car all these months. But it's a two-month-old story when it comes to me.


BLITZER: Tell us the problem. Tell us the problem. You have been trying to get in touch with Toyota to complain about this. But you've come up, what, against a dead-end?

WOZNIAK: Well, the NHTSA has been a real problem for me to report things online or by phone.

BLITZER: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

WOZNIAK: And they really just want to take some data. They don't want to fix problems. They don't want to fix problems. They just want to hear about it for their database. But they did finally did get me a number of Toyota. And I got through. And I got up to the point of Toyota. It was difficult, because I have such a busy schedule, I haven't been able to do it all the time. I got through to Toyota. And they make a mark of it a few days ago.

But a couple months ago, my wife took the car in for me while I was traveling. And they didn't quite buy her, that she had something, that there was something there, because there is a very explainable -- there's a different explanation that is more along the lines of user error in cruise control with the radar system.

And they are right. And, also, I claim that I have a different story slightly. But, regardless, it's not the one that threatens lives, like cars that just suddenly start accelerating and you can't stop it and have no control. Once I heard that story, I sure did memorize the technique to quickly shift my car into neutral.

BLITZER: And turn off the engine and get to the side of the road as quickly as possible. We went through that whole explanation yesterday.


WOZNIAK: Yes. And there's a way to do it. If you're panicked, if you're panicked and your car takes off, you don't think of these things. But if you plan in advance, at least I'm a little bit safer.

BLITZER: Well, explain what you think the cause of this problem -- you're driving along, you put your car let's say at 55 miles an hour in cruise control, and all of a sudden the car accelerates, and you didn't do anything. Why does that happen?

WOZNIAK: No. That's not the issue.

It's a little more of a procedure of upping the speed, upping the speed, and then suddenly it just sort of went like it thought you told it to go to infinity. And it accelerates smoothly and it's only happened to me on freeways using the cruise control.

And it's very difficult to explain. It's not expected, so it's scary. When it happened to -- I showed my wife how to do it, and she caused it to happen. And it was scary for her, but only the first time.

BLITZER: Has Toyota explained to you what the problem -- has Toyota explained what the problem is?


WOZNIAK: Oh, that's the problem. Well, I did report it to a local dealer. But, like I said, they kind of -- they didn't escalate it up to some high level safety guy at Toyota.

And you would think that with all these accelerator problems, whether it was mats, whether it was a sticky accelerator pedal, whatever -- I believe they found the right solution. If Toyota says it's not electrical, then I'm sure they're right. I have a slightly different problem.

I might have just one unlucky bad car. Like you could buy a bad cell phone. Yours doesn't work for something and everyone else's does. Well, you just got a bad one.

BLITZER: Let me ask you one unrelated question while I have you, before I let you go. Your former partner, Steve Jobs, they have now introduced the iPad, amid a lot of fanfare. I know you have nothing to do with Apple anymore, but what do you think about this new gadget?

WOZNIAK: I'm a high-end tech geek, gadgeteer. And it doesn't exactly fit my lifestyle of a quantity of the maximum usage.

But then I thought about it. I have a lot of experience teaching in schools, being around educators. Oh, my God, the education community, the number of times I was in schools that were looking for ways to buy thousands of computers for their students. And they want Macs so badly, but sometimes the price puts them off. This is the ideal machine. It does what a student needs to operate in the school.

And also students that go away and their parents say they can't afford the Mac, it's more expensive than a P.C., now they have an out and they can have the hottest, coolest gadget of the time. A lot of older people that I'm around don't like that computer systems are so complicated, there's so much you have to know, and, when things go wrong, it's difficult to understand.

Here's a whole new platform based on a phone that's so simplified that it isn't that complicated. It's like a fresh start for computers. And I think it applies to them just as much. Like my wife's father is a perfect subject for this new computer.

BLITZER: And that's a good point.

But let me get back to the electronics issue in Toyota. We got -- we were interested obviously in what you had to say because of the original comments.

I will read to you what you said. And I want you to just clarify once and for all, so there is no confusion. There is a lot of confusion out there about where Steve Wozniak stands on Toyota. You were quoted as saying: "The reason that my case is important and urgent is that it is electronic. I can cause it totally under cruise control without a foot touching the accelerator pedal. Is my software bug also some code that is in the other Priuses and related to the deadly problem?"

That was the quote from you. And I think you have explained what you meant to say.

WOZNIAK: Correct.

BLITZER: But do you want to elaborate? Anything else you want to say on that? WOZNIAK: Yes.

It's a quote, but it's referring to a point in time that was maybe one month ago, two months ago, when it might have been related to the real problem of the recall. And now it probably isn't, unless somebody is telling horrible lies.

But, right then, you would think, oh, my gosh, anybody who has got an accelerator issue, if the top people in Toyota or their legal department heard about this, they would say we want to go -- oh, my gosh, we have got to look at your car right away. We might learn what the real cause is, because they were claiming that mats were sticking in the accelerator of Priuses, but some people were saying, no, no, no, their mat was not loose, they didn't even have a mat.

So, there were questions about what the real problem was. So, it's like the bug in a computer. You don't get to the real true answer right away, or even your first thing that you think is right sometimes isn't.

BLITZER: And we did ask Toyota for a statement regarding your earlier quoted comments.

Let me read to you what Jim Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, had to say, Jim Lentz, president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales.

"USA has reached out to Mr. Wozniak to discuss the situation. We are eager to learn about what Mr. Wozniak has experienced with his Prius and to share what we know about the systems in his vehicle to clarify the situation."

Is that true? Have they reached out to you?

WOZNIAK: Well -- I more than anything else in the world, I would like somebody high up in safety at Toyota just acknowledge, oh, we heard about your problem now, because I had so much lack of success two months ago.

And I'm sure they're very nice people, but, you know, Wolf, I'm not an angry person. I haven't complained about this problem to a single friend. It's almost humorous to talk about. I have a neat story. And, you know, you guys -- you guys here on CNN, you guys aren't as friendly as on "Dancing With the Stars."


BLITZER: Steve Wozniak, thanks very much for coming in.

WOZNIAK: Glad to be here.

BLITZER: They lead America's intelligence agencies, and they all agree on one thing: There will be another attempted terror attack on the United States sooner, not later. Details of the new sobering assessment, that's coming up. Also, should terror suspects be read their rights? The defense secretary has an opinion. But why is he hesitant to give it? Details of his vague answer to a blunt question.

Plus, new developments in the case of American missionaries accused of child trafficking in Haiti. We're going there live.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's bring in Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: This just in. Abstinence-only sex education might just work.

A landmark federally funded study shows the first clear evidence that these programs can persuade teenagers to put off having sex. And this could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancy rates, as well as sexually transmitted disease.

The study appears in "The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine." It shows 33 percent of sixth and seventh graders who took an abstinence-only program began having sex within two years, but that's much better than the 52 percent who were taught only about safe sex and went on to have sex within two years -- 42 percent who learned about both safe sex and abstinence.

The Obama administration had cut out more than $170 million in annual federal funding for the abstinence programs and instead put more than $100 million towards other types of sex-ed programs. But based on these new findings, officials now suggest similar abstinence programs could be eligible for some of these federal dollars.

Some call the abstinence research game-changing, that it comes after years of getting a bad rap. The critics, though, say the curriculum in the study isn't a good sample of abstinence-only programs. They say the class study didn't take a moral tone. It encouraged teens to wait to have sex until they're ready, not until they're married. And it didn't disapprove of condom use.

One researcher says the takeaway is that the best solution to fight the problem is to use a wide range of programs. The results of this study ironically come just a week after another report showing that after a decade of declining teen pregnancies, the rate is going up again among all racial and all ethnic groups.

So, here's the question: What role should abstinence-only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy? Go to Post comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good question, Jack. Thanks very much.

Terrorists will definitely try to attack the United States once again in the near future, that very grim assessment today from the heads of the major U.S. intelligence agencies. Listen to this chilling roll call.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: What is the likelihood of another terrorist attempted attack on the U.S. homeland in the next three to six months, high or low?

Director Blair?

DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: An attempted attack, the priority is certain, I would say.

FEINSTEIN: Mr. Panetta?

LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: I would agree with that.

FEINSTEIN: Mr. Mueller?


FEINSTEIN: General Burgess?


FEINSTEIN: Mr. Dinger?



BLITZER: Let's talk about this and more with our national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President Bush.

In the next three to six months, certain they say there's going to be at least an attempted terrorist attack against the United States. That's chilling.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: It's not only chilling, Wolf. It's unprecedented. How many times can we recall since 9/11 seeing intelligence and law enforcement officials up there saying it's certain? That doesn't happen, although in some respects when you look at since the attempted bombing on Christmas Day, you have seen John Brennan come out, the president's homeland security adviser, and say al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the closest affiliate to al Qaeda core.

We have seen an attempt on the counterterrorism chief with an underwear bomber in Saudi Arabia. We have seen the British come out and the British have raised their terrorist alert system. They're loathe to do that, I can tell from you experience. And so when you see all of these things happening, Wolf, I think Americans understand that the threat is certainly up. But when you hear these people, these officials who are cognizant of the intelligence that we're not aware of say it's certain, that is pretty chilling.

BLITZER: Well, in Britain, they have raised the terror threat level. Should we do it here in the United States?

TOWNSEND: You know, it's interesting, Wolf. Secretary Napolitano commissioned a task force to look at it. I co-chaired that task force. We made recommendations. This is more than -- this is months ago.

And they didn't seem to do anything to it. I think it's a dilemma for them now. Having not changed or altered the terror alert system and said that the likelihood of an attack is certain, I think they're in a very difficult position. I think they need to now explain, what is the utility, if any at all, to the continuing terror alert system?

BLITZER: All right. I want you to listen to this exchange. The defense secretary, Robert Gates, was up on Capitol Hill today and he was asked about the Miranda rights issue that were read to the Christmas Day attempted airplane bomber, Abdulmutallab. And listen to this exchange that occurred.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Gates, when we capture an enemy combatant in Afghanistan or Iraq, do we read them their Miranda rights?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why should we do so if we capture one in this country?

GATES: That's a question better addressed to the attorney general, Senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were the director of the Central Intelligence Agency before you were the secretary of defense?

GATES: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I assume you have an opinion on this.

GATES: I have -- my view is that the issue of whether someone is put into the American judicial system or into the military commissions is a judgment best made by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.


BLITZER: Very diplomatic response from the defense secretary, though he hesitated there for several seconds. You noticed that. How would you have answered that question? TOWNSEND: Well, Wolf, in fairness to Bob Gates, this is really not his job. And that's really what you saw him struggling with. He probably has a personal opinion.

But right now, as the secretary of defense, he handles the military commission process. He's engaged in running two wars. And so, really, it's not a fair question to him.

When he says the chief law enforcement officer, even that's ambiguous, when he says it's really up to them. Is he referring to Bob Mueller, the head of the FBI, or is he in fact referring to the chief law enforcement officer in the person of the attorney general?

BLITZER: Eric Holder.

TOWNSEND: Eric Holder.

And so even when he finally did answer it, it was anything but clear.

BLITZER: Did you see the breaking news from Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent...


BLITZER: ... that Abdulmutallab apparently is now cooperating with U.S. law enforcement. He was read his Miranda rights, but he's now cooperating and providing what they described as very good information, intelligence information, about his own background and what happened in Yemen and elsewhere. That's significant.

TOWNSEND: It is significant, Wolf. But I will tell you I think you are going to see the administration is going to spin that to mean something I don't think it does.

And that is, the administration is going to tell us, well, look, it didn't really matter that we read him his Miranda rights. He's cooperating anyway, when in fact there's been this long break in his cooperation. Jeanne's story said he started speaking about a week ago. That means there was a period of weeks where he had actionable intelligence he wasn't sharing with us after having been read his Miranda rights only after 50 minutes of questioning.

BLITZER: Are you surprised we're now learning that he is cooperating? Because -- is there any compromise in intelligence? Why the timing of this now? Those are issues that sort of jump to my mind.

TOWNSEND: No, you're exactly right, Wolf. And as Jeanne had heard from someone, senior law enforcement officials, so did I, that this was actually now going on, I think it's -- I suspect the timing of us finding out about it publicly is pretty interesting, because as you know there's been this push back and forth between whom in the administration made that decision, who was aware, who was consulted.

And I think the bureau frankly was tired of being criticized and wanted it out there that he is now cooperating.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Fran Townsend, helping us better appreciate what is going on.

Iran's president is considering making a deal for the release of those American hikers his country is holding -- details of what he wants to trade for their freedom.

Plus, autism and a surprising turnaround -- a new study that disturbed parents around the world now being retracted.



BLITZER: Canada, Britain, France, Israel allow gays to serve openly in their military. What about the United States?

Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. says now is not the time. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing to make it happen. They will join us in just a moment.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Some congressional Democrats want to reverse key elements of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance. We will talk about it with our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

A pilot startled and confused in the final seconds before his Continental Airlines flight crashed. Now we're learning about some critical details of his qualifications he didn't tell his employer.

And the Census Bureau faces a major challenge. How do you find people who don't want to be counted? Details of efforts to coax hundreds of thousands of people out of the shadows.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Pentagon is now taking steps to prepare for lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the United States military. The Defense secretary, Robert Gates, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee a year long study is now underway that will contain an implementation plan for when Congress repeals the law. The Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, says lifting the ban is a matter of integrity and "the right thing do."

The number of service members discharged under "don't ask/don't tell" has generally declined over the last decade, while the U.S. Has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The peak was back in 2001, when more than 1,200 men and women were discharged. Last year, the number was 428. In total, more than 13,000 men and women have been discharged under the policy since it was implemented back in 1993. Critics note that the number includes 730 deemed mission critical, plus 65 Arabic and Farsi language linguists or experts.

And joining us now to discuss the "don't ask/don't tell" policy, two members of the Congress, the Republican representative, Duncan Hunter, Jr. He's a reserve Marine, a freshman Congressman from California, holding the seat vacated by his father, the 14-term Congressman, Duncan L. Hunter. He opposes lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Also joining us, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York State. She supports lifting the ban.

Thanks to both of you very much for coming in.

Congressman Hunter, why is it OK for the -- the militaries in Canada, Britain, France, most of the NATO allies, Israel, to allow gays to serve openly without any serious problems there, but not OK to allow gays to serve openly in the U.S. Military?


Well, the -- the main reason is we aren't Britain, France or -- or Canada or Israel. Their -- their military is much smaller than ours, it's much more specialized. We have a larger military. And I think that it would be detrimental to our -- our -- the entire force, our -- our cohesiveness if -- if we allowed homosexuals to serve openly.

But the -- the main answer is they aren't us, we aren't them. We're the -- the world's major military, its major police force, doing things like Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan and -- and carrying the majority of the burden for most wars where we're in the right. And I think it's important that we maintain that status quo.

BLITZER: I'll get to Senator Gillibrand in a moment. But you don't think, for example, the Israelis have military issues similar to the issues the United States faces?

HUNTER: Yes, but the Israelis have mandatory service. And so that you have to go into the military in Israel. We have an all volunteer force. And...

BLITZER: But do they have a problem...

HUNTER:'s been that way.

BLITZER: far as unit cohesion, because they allow gays to serve openly?

HUNTER: No. I don't -- I don't know, Wolf. But they don't have a choice, because it's all volunteer. They -- I mean it isn't volunteer, like -- like ours is. They -- they have mandatory service. So in Israel, it doesn't matter if you'd like it or not, whereas here, the recruiters are going to say, hey, it's -- it's hurting the recruiting because we -- we don't have as many kids who want to join because they've allowed homosexuals to -- to serve openly.

Israel doesn't have that. You -- you are actually forced to join the military in Israel. Two totally different situations.

BLITZER: All right.


BLITZER: Well, let's let Senator Gillibrand respond to that.

Go ahead, Senator.

GILLIBRAND: Well, in answer to your question, Admiral Mullen testified today that he has talked to the commanding officers of these other services for other countries. And, in fact, they have said they've experienced no undermining of morale or no less unit cohesion. And he brought out the point that I thought was very important, that we serve with these militaries, not only in Iraq, but Afghanistan. And our men and women serve with their men and women. And there's no problem in our ability to serve effectively.

BLITZER: All right. Do you want to respond to that, Congressman?

HUNTER: Sure, Wolf. To -- to her last one, I was in Afghanistan serving with -- with NATO for six, seven months. I didn't run into any open homosexual men or women with -- with the Brits, Canadians, Germans, French, the other people that I served with over there. So it isn't like there's a bunch of open homosexuals serving all -- all over with Americans.

On the -- on the other point, Admiral Mullen and -- and Secretary Gates are both political appointees. They're going to be biased. They're going to say what the administration wants them to say.

What I want to talk to is the Marines Corps commandant. I want to talk to -- to -- to General Casey in -- in the Army. I want to see what the military leaders -- the actual service leaders have to say on this, because I think they'll have a much different take than the political appointees.

BLITZER: All right. Let me just hesitate for a second, Congressman Hunter.

Secretary Gates is certainly a political appointee named by the president, confirmed by the Senate.

But Admiral Mullen is a four star Navy admiral, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a career military officer.

You're saying he's a political appointee?

HUNTER: What I'm saying is his -- his -- his point of view -- and he stressed this today -- was his and his alone. It is not his -- his actual Joint Chiefs' point of view.

BLITZER: But you're saying he's biased.

HUNTER: I think we're going to hear something very different.

GILLIBRAND: Wolf, may I...

BLITZER: Are you -- are you saying...

GILLIBRAND: ...address this question?

BLITZER: Yes, hold on, Senator.

I just want to clarify what the Congressman is saying.

You're saying he's biased?

HUNTER: Oh, he is biased to the administration. Yes. I believe so. I think we...

BLITZER: All right...


BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

HUNTER: We saw what happened with -- with General -- General Pace. I don't think he wants that to happen to him.

GILLIBRAND: In answer to your...

BLITZER: Go ahead. You're talking about Peter Pace, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

What happened to him, Congressman?

HUNTER: He was -- he was basically kicked out of the administration and -- and reprimanded for (INAUDIBLE) talking...

BLITZER: But that was during the Bush administration.

HUNTER: ...talking about this -- oh, true. It was during the Bush administration. But -- but still, he was -- he was pretty much reprimanded and his career ended because of -- of -- of words on -- on this particular subject.

GILLIBRAND: Well, Wolf, I...

BLITZER: All right.

GILLIBRAND: I'd like to address...

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

GILLIBRAND: Wolf, I'd like to address some of the men and women who are serving in the military right now. You know, I have a project on my Web site, DADT Story Project. And I have men and women who have served in the military who told their own personal stories about why this policy is so corrosive.

And it was amplified by Admiral Mullen today when he said this is about integrity. And I have sergeants who are saying that it fundamentally undermines the integrity, not just their own integrity, where they're being forced to lie about something so important, about who they love, not being able to kiss their loved ones good-bye when they're -- when they're going off to serve; not being able to talk to their commanding officer or the men and women they serve with about the things that are most important to them; that it -- it's not only living a lie, but it undermines the integrity of their own being, but also the armed services.

BLITZER: Well, Senator...

GILLIBRAND: And those stories...

BLITZER: ...let me just press you on one of the arguments. Senator John McCain made it. The House Republican leader, John Boehner, made it, that the United States is now in the middle of two wars, a war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan. This is not the time, they say, to raise this divisive -- divisive issue. It's better left to the sidelines. The "don't ask/don't tell" policy, they say, is working out just fine. Leave it alone.

GILLIBRAND: It's not working out just fine, Wolf. We've lost 16,000 personnel because of this policy -- more than 800 in mission critical areas, meaning we cannot easily replace them. We've lost 10 percent of our foreign language speakers, particularly in Farsi and Arabic, while we're desperately trying to fight terrorism and need those skills.

This has cost the military over $300 million in recruitment or replacement costs. We need all of our best and brightest serving now, with all of these skills, with all of this training.

And so I would challenge you now, when we have two wars, great recruitment needs and fighting terrorism on every front, we need all of our best and brightest in place. And we should not lose another soldier, another airman, another Marine, another Naval officer. We just cannot afford to lose some of these men and women.

HUNTER: If I may, Wolf, since 19...

BLITZER: Very quickly, Congressman.

HUNTER: Since 1999, over 1.96 people -- 1.96 -- 1.96 million people have been discharged. 0.5 percent of those have been discharged because of homosexual conduct. I was in the military, the Marines Corps, for three tours. It's going to hurt unit cohesion if we take this issue and we press this as a social experiment on the military right now when we have two big wars going on.

GILLIBRAND: I think you...

KING: Congressman Duncan Hunter...


BLITZER: Unfortunately, we're out of time. But I'd love to have both of you back to continue this debate because, obviously, it's not going away.

If you have a 10 second comment, Senator, go ahead.

GILLIBRAND: Well, I just want to thank Duncan for his service and his commitment and his sacrifices for our military. I served with your father on the Armed Services Committee on the House side. And so I am greatly appreciative of your service.

BLITZER: And we're going to have Senator Gillibrand back. And you've got a hot political race coming up this year. We'll talk politics the next time you're here, as well.

But a good, important discussion on a major issue facing the United States military right now.

Thanks to both of you for coming in.

HUNTER: Thanks, Wolf.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

BLITZER: American Baptist missionaries in jail in Haiti right now, accused of child trafficking. We're going there live for details -- critical new developments in this case. Stand by.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Lisa Sylvester.

She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What else is going on -- Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Wolf.

Well, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that Iran is now ready to send uranium abroad for further enrichment, as requested by the United Nations. Ahmadinejad said in an interview today with state Iranian television that Iran will have no problem giving the West its low enriched uranium. The move would be a major shift in Iran's policy.

And at least 29 people are dead after a suspected U.S. drone strike in Northwestern Pakistan. The missiles hit targets in villages in North Waziristan. Analysts say this is the highest death toll in a single day from a drone strike in Pakistan this year. A suspected strike last month is believed to have injured the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan.

And the box office mega hit "Avatar" and the independent film, "The Hurt Locker," are two of the early favorites for this year's Academy Awards. Both films earned nine nominations, including best picture, and pitted respective directors and ex-spouses, James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, against each other. A total of 10 films were nominated for best picture this year. And the Oscars will air on March 7th.

And I've got to say, I have not seen either of those two movies, though -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There's a lot of movies I've got to catch up and see, as well, before the Oscars.

All right, Lisa.

Thanks very much.

We have our homework for us.

SYLVESTER: Yes, we do.

BLITZER: A new twist in the case of those Americans accused of child trafficking in Haiti. Stand by. We're going to be hearing from parents who tell us they willingly handed over their children and why.


BLITZER: New developments in the case of 10 Americans facing child trafficking charges in Haiti. A judge was meeting with them today. We'll get an update on that in a moment.

But first, we hear from parents who say they willingly handed over their children in hopes of a better life for them.

Here's CNN's Karl Penhaul.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Family photos taken before a desperate father gave away his baby daughters. Lelly Laurentus says he handed over 4-year-old Saraya (ph) and 5-year-old Layla (ph) to a group of American Baptists last week.

The Americans are now in a Haitian jail, accused of trafficking 33 Haitian babies and children.

Laurentus, whose story is echoed by other parents in this village, says he was too poor to care for his kids after the quake. He hoped the Americans would offer his girls a brighter future.

"I put them on the bus with the Americans with my own hands. I played with them up until the last minute. Then I kissed them both good-bye and told them, 'don't forget daddy,'" he said.

Laurentus, who says he earns a dollar a day fixing computers, shows us around his quake-damaged home. He finds the grubby bear his little Saraya called Tigone (ph). He packed nothing for his kids. He says the Americans promised to give the children schooling, a safe home in the Dominican Republic, new clothes and soft toys.

"I was crying because I didn't know when I would see them again. But it's OK if I suffer. But at their age, Saraya and Layla should not suffer. They can't go hungry," he said.

In the grassy square, villagers say 21 of the 33 children taken by the Americans were from here. They say at least 14 had one or both parents.

In a weekend jailhouse interview, the Americans told CNN they believed all the children they attempted to bus into the Dominican Republic were orphans or had been abandoned.

LAURA SILSBY, ACCUSED OF TRAFFICKING: We believe that we've been charged very falsely with trafficking, which, of course, that is the furthest possible extreme.

PENHAUL: In a temporary refuge for the rescued children in Port- au-Prince, 10-year-old Benatine Poulemet (ph) plays alone on a swing, hoping her mom will change her mind and come fetch her. We find her mother at Rien Poulemet (ph) in Calabas (ph), the same mountain village as the other parents. She misses her daughter and cradles her doll. She remembers how Benatine sobbed as she left last Thursday.

"I told her to call me once in a while just so I know how she's doing, so I would know if she was fine," she says.

Benatine's parents scrape by farming vegetables and bananas. They're the poorest of the poor. Poulemet says the only thing she could give Benatine was her love, even if it meant sending her away.

"I told her she should go and I promised one day I would go and see her. After she left, I was very sad," she says.

The Haitian government is now investigating what the Americans planned to do with the children, who had no passports and no permission to leave, and whether they knowingly committed a crime.


BLITZER: And Karl Penhaul is joining us now live from Port-au- Prince -- Karl, you've been out working this story all day.

What else is going on?

What about, first of all, these 10 Americans?

I take it they're all still in prison?

PENHAUL: They are. They're all in jail down at the judicial police headquarters, which is down near the airport in Port-au-Prince. And today, they had a meeting -- another meeting with a judge.

Now, this is an investigative judge who carries out a preliminary investigation. And then once the judge has done his questioning and -- and prepared a file, a dossier, then he will pass that along, we understand, to a tribunal -- what the Haitians call a tribunal of more judges, who will then look over the evidence and investigate this further.

So things certainly seem to be moving ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And what about the kids?

What do we know about the 33 children?

PENHAUL: Well, all 33 are now being cared for by an Austrian-run charity, SOS Children's Villages. The Haitian social services ministry has said that those children cannot be reunited with their families for now because the parents and the guardians -- the legal guardians of those children have also become targets of investigation, as well. The Haitian authorities want to find out why the parents gave their children to the Americans and -- and also because the prime minister himself says this is illegal, you can't just go around giving your kids away.

Yes, the parents say, we're poor, we couldn't look after them. One may sympathize with that, but it isn't legal. And so now the parents are also becoming a target of investigation.

But what we do know now is that at least 20 of the 33 children had one parent or other. They had a mother, a father or, in some cases, both. And many of the other remaining 13 children had a very close next of kin, such as an elder brother or an elder sister, who had been looking after them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul will stay on top of this story for us.

Appreciate it, Karl.

Thanks very much.

Jack Cafferty is up next with The Cafferty File.

Plus, Toyota's public relations nightmare -- now word from a top U.S. official that it took considerable pressure to get the company to issue its recall.


BLITZER: All right. Let's check in with Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is what role should abstinence-only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy, which, for the first time in 10 years, has begun to rise again in this country?

Monica writes from Seattle: "Out of that 33 percent who started having sex after abstinence-only sex education, how many became pregnant or contracted an STD because they didn't learn how to protect themselves? Abstinence may be the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy or disease, but teenagers are still going to have sex. Shouldn't they have all the information available to them?"

Ted writes: "As an educator, I've seen firsthand that abstinence-only education works. Most of the criticism of abstinence- centered programs is way off base. If anything, they seem to be more comprehensive. They invite young people to look at the bigger picture. The physical, emotional, financial and spiritual consequences of teenage sex must be discussed. Abstinence educators have the courage to explore these realities with the young people they encounter."

Meg writes: "I don't think abstinence-only programs, as the only choice, will work. I definitely think it ought to be taught as one of the choices. When so many young people don't classify oral sex as sex, there's a problem. It's not just teen pregnancy that's of a concern. STDs are, as well."

J.J. in Washington, writes: "It doesn't work. There should be a variety of birth control methods taught to these kids. Teens are going to have sex whether parents like it or not. It's better to eliminate the stigma of teen sex than to have kids who feel like they can't seek out some form of birth control because their parents are going to find out. Teens need to be educated on all their options, not just preached at to say no."

Bob writes: "The fact that teen pregnancies are rising for the first time in 10 years tells me that we've been doing a pretty good job for these 10 years. The program is working pretty well. I wish all government programs worked as well."

And E. in Chicago, writes: "Unless we've found a way to reign in teenaged curiosity, there'd better be a combination of the two programs. Both abstinence and sex ed should be taught. By the way, the study wasn't a game changer, AIDS was a game changer."

If you want to read more on the subject, we've got a lot of mail. Go to my blog at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you know what?

We'll do it again.

CAFFERTY: In approximately an hour.


CAFFERTY: Well, actually, I mean in about 15 minutes.

BLITZER: In a few minutes.

CAFFERTY: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: Don't go far.

CAFFERTY: I can't wait.

BLITZER: All right. A landmark study on autism now retracted.

Plus, a banker caught on tape analyzing some unusual assets.


BLITZER: Here's some advice -- be careful what you watch at work. You never know who might be watching you.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): If you're going to look at half-naked pictures, you'd better make sure you're not exposed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they expecting a rise or not?


MOOS: Channel 7 news in Australia got more of a rise than they bargained for. Note the guy in the background bringing up racy photos on his computer.




MOOS: The Macquarie financial expert was talking about interest rates. But that's not what interested the guy in the background. Even when a colleague walked over, he kept right on looking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the end of this year...


MOOS: Folks quickly recognized Miranda Kerr, a famous Victoria's Secret model.


MIRANDA KERR, MODEL: Which is what I have on now.


MOOS: Yes, well, actually, she had on less than she usually does when cavorting on a beach or on a bed. In the words of one admirer, "I would totally drink her bath water."

Her fans put her image to songs like "Supermodel."


MOOS: That's what he was supposed to be doing


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is where they were at their low.


MOOS (on camera): In the guy's defense, it wasn't really porn he was looking at. It was more as if he were opening photos that someone had e-mailed him -- photos from "G.Q."

(voice-over): The current issue

It includes a three photo spread. As he looked at a final photo...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six to nine months before they actually see that effect.


MOOS: ...he knew he was nabbed. "Poor so and so," someone commiserated, "busted doing something most people do at work everyday," as in this French commercial where a guy watching porn accidentally unplugs his headset...


MOOS: ...or the wife surprises hubby at home.




MOOS: And his computer freezes before he can hide the evidence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing?


MOOS: Get a laptop or maybe a lap dance. Online speculation about this guy's fate was rampant.



MOOS: In the words of Donald Trump...



DONALD TRUMP: You're fired.


MOOS: But the Macquarie Group would say only that it takes matters such as the unacceptable use of technology extremely seriously and that the situation is being dealt with internally.

This is what banker types are looking at?

And we wonder why they didn't see the crash coming.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, six to nine months before they actually see that effect.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before they actually see that effect.


MOOS: ...CNN...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before they actually see that effect.


MOOS: ...New York.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. The suspect in the failed Christmas bomb attack starts talking again.

Is he pointing fingers and naming names?

We're going to tell you what we're learning right now. Stand by.

The top U.S. military officer says it's time to do the right thing for gay troops. This hour, service members open up about plans to repeal "don't ask, don't tell".

And a new charge that Toyota was slow to recall millions of cars and a little deaf to the danger of drivers. A top Obama administration official is now speaking out.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.